Jessica is still inspiring me. I reviewed her first book back in 2013 read here. Check out her latest project:
This is the story of one woman who ate 21 meals with 21 women and swam 21 miles to find out.
After a decade of trying to become a mother – eleven rounds of unsuccessful IVF, multiple miscarriages and a pregnancy that didn’t create a life but almost cost me mine – it was time to do something different. Something big which would eclipse the fact I was facing a future I had never imagined.
So I decided to swim the English Channel – the 21 miles of sea from England to France. No easy feat for anyone, especially someone who could hardly swim a length, hates exercise and the cold.
As my punishing training schedule commenced, one of the first things I learnt is that you’re not allowed to wear a wetsuit so you need to put on weight to stave off the cold. For someone who loves food, this was a dream come true. But it also led to another idea…
What if I wrote to a collection of inspiring women to ask if they would meet and eat with me to talk about whether they think motherhood makes you happy? It would help me to get fat but might also help me decide what to do next with my life – did I need to find some way of becoming a mother or could I have a fulfilling life without children?
So I did and the response was overwhelming. From household names to people who have done something quietly amazing; from baronesses and professors to award-winners and record-breakers. Amazing women from different walks of life – some mothers, some not – but all with fascinating and compelling truths to tell about female fulfillment and the meaning of motherhood.
Just like IVF, swimming the English channel is a challenge which more people fail than succeed. Maybe I had failed at becoming a mother but on 2nd September 2015, I set out from Dover beach in the dark – taking the words that each of the women I met gave me to the sea.
This month I’ve launched the pre-order fundraising campaign for my new book. 21 Miles: the story of one woman who ate 21 meals with 21 women and then swam 21 miles to answer the question: does motherhood make you happy? No prizes for guessing who that one woman is! You can watch the trailer, read the synopsis and an extract here: https://unbound.com/books/21-miles
I’m working with an award-winning publisher called Unbound that is based on a crowd-funding business model that gives more control to authors and their readers. This has proved really important for my book because mainstream publishers still feel that what I write about is niche and a bit taboo. 21 Miles is my next step in changing the conversation around motherhood and making a better world for all women. But only if people want to read it. So please consider buying an advance copy (digital or hardback) or ticket/s to the book launch. All the details are here: https://unbound.com/books/21-miles
I’m hoping that the pre-order campaign for my book will be completed by the end of September which will mean that it will be published next year to coincide with Fertility Fest – my arts festival about fertility, infertility and the science of assisted conception (watch this space for more information on that soon). Yesterday I went to an exhibition by a lovely artist who I was meeting for the first time and I hope will be appearing in a future festival. I told her that I really want to try and change the world around this topic but sometimes it feels difficult and I’m not sure whether I will. Like having to crowdfund for your book which is tough – and a bit like IVF, physically and emotionally exhausting, all hope and no certainty.
Later the same lovely artist sent me an email thanking me for coming to her show. She said that following our conversation, she wanted to send me a quote by Robert Kennedy. This is it.
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”
If you buy my book you will be sending me a ripple of hope. And although I might never have the greatness to bend history what I can promise you is this: together we might change a small portion of events and in all those acts and in this book will be written the history of the IVF generation.
Jessica Hepburn is one of the UK’s leading voices on fertility, infertility and assisted conception. She is the author of the book The Pursuit of Motherhood and writes and speaks widely in the press and media on the subject of IVF. In 2016, following her ten year tenure as Executive Director of the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, she founded Fertility Fest, the world’s first arts festival dedicated to the science of making babies. To date she has raised over £30,000 in personal fundraising challenges for families without children and children without families.
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